Bengaluru: Over the past week, the Indian Men’s Hockey Team have been put through the grind as they have been focused on improving their defending skills as a unit. Two-time World Cup winner for Australia Fergus Kavanagh who is in SAI, Bengaluru on an invitation by Hockey India has been working with the team, under the watchful eyes of Chief Coach Graham Reid and Analytical Coach Chris Ciriello, sharing his experience from a decade long International career.
Speaking of the Defenders Camp, Surender Kumar who has been credited as one of the most reliable defenders in the current Indian team said, “When we played matches in Australia in May this year, we really felt that we fell short in our defence. We made errors that led to conceding PCs and we also gave away goals in pressure situations. When we regrouped in Bhubaneswar for the FIH Men’s Series Finals, our priority was to get our defence right. Though we eventually managed to execute what we had worked on, it’s now important to show the same consistency against higher ranked teams.”
At the Olympic Test Event in Japan next month, India will play against nemesis Malaysia, New Zealand and hosts Japan starting 17 August 2019 and Surender feels the results of this Defender’s Camp will show during this event.
“No doubt this Camp has been very beneficial for the team. We have worked on tackling and positioning and most importantly this was not just for defenders but for the entire team as good defence starts with the fowardline. We have also been watching our previous matches videos and working on minor details such as the distance that needs to be maintained between forwards and defence line,” added Surender further emphasizing that the team needs to translate these high-tempo training sessions in match situations too.
“It’s now important that we execute what we have been doing in these practice sessions in match situations. When we train, we do create mock pressure situations and working with Fergus has been fun because he brings that player-enthusiasm to each session and as a player I admired him for his ability of making zero errors in most tense situations. Though I never played against him I have watched him closely during Hockey India League and having him train with us now is fun and I am sure will be result-oriented,” Surender said.